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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources


Living in Light of Two Ages



Apologetics in a Post Christian Age (Audio) -- Theological Cateogies (Part Four)

Here's the audio from the Wednesday Night Bible Study:  Human Freedom and Apologetics

Previous lectures in this series can be found here (scroll down): Apologetics in a Post Christian Age



"Children in the Hands of the Arminians" (Part One)

B. B. Warfield (1851-1921) is widely hailed as one of America's greatest theologians.  I certainly think so.  His books have remained in near-continuous publication since his death in February, 1921.  Although dead for nearly 100 years, Warfield remains a theological force with which to be reckoned.

As professor of polemical and didactic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary--a fancy title, which translates into "if it is worth discussing or needs to be refuted, go for it"--Warfield published 781 book reviews over his long and exceedingly productive career.  This is an amazing feat when one considers that many of these reviews are often quite substantial and the book under review often times was a German, French, or (dare I say it) even a Dutch publication.

Some of Warfield's reviews are published in his collected works, while many are not.  There are other gems from the "Lion of Princeton" that remain hidden away in obscure journals and publications.  I thought it might be of interest to bring some of these to light (as my time allows and your interest in them dictates).

I will break up these Warfield essays and reviews into "bite-size" pieces with my own annotations (limited to where I think a comment is necessary or interesting).

The first of these gems I have chosen is Warfield's "Review" of The Child as God's Child, by Rev. Charles W. Rishell, Ph. D., Professor of Historical Theology in Boston University School of Theology. New York: Eaton & Mains. Cincinnati: Jennings & Graham (1904). 

Warfield's review of Rishell's book was originally published in vol. xvii of the Union Seminary Magazine, 1904.  Warfield entitled his review, "Children in the Hands of the Arminians.


Prof. Charles W. Rishell, of Boston University, has written a very interesting little book on the relation of little children to Christianity and to the Christian Church [see bibliogrphical details above]. The object he has set before him is the very laudable one of pleading for the religious education of children. In order to give force to his pleading he argues the possibility of religion in children of the tenderest years. He insists on the importance for them of religious instruction and example. He demands of the church recognition of their church membership and provision for their care and development as children of God with the same right to the privileges of God's Church as other members. As he expresses it, he pleads with the Church "to count the children in, not out."

The inclusion of children in Reformed worship is a near-universal practice.  Children of believers are considered to be baptized, but not professing members (as are their parents).  Often times Reformed churches provide nurseries or "cry-rooms" for those little ones still too young to sit through an hour long (or longer) worship service.  As soon as children are physically able, they should be included and involved when the people of God assemble for Lord's Day worship.  This includes their participation in the singing of God's praises, the hearing of God's word, and corporate prayer.  They should also witness (until they are properly catechized and make a credible profession of faith) the members of the church participating in the Lord's Supper.

One of the most unfortunate practices found throughout today's evangelicalism is to exile children to "children's church" (or similar).  This is done, we are often told, so they do not disrupt the worship service.  I once heard a prominent local pastor complain that the presence of children in worship interferes with the Holy Spirit's work.  He claimed the noise and confusion generated by children make evangelism or "getting into the Spirit" nearly impossible.  I fully agree with Dr. Robert Godfrey, when he refers to the noise and sound of children in worship as "sounds of the covenant." 

Warfield agrees with Rev. Rishell's stress upon church's role in reaching children in "their tenderest years."  We can only imagine what BBW would say in response to today's wide-spread practice of excluding children from Lord's Day worship.

The significance of the book is that it emanates from Arminian circles and reasons from Arminian postulates. This is its significance; and this is its weakness. There is no other system of belief of widespread influence in the churches to which it is not a commonplace and mere matter of course that children are capable of religious life from their very earliest years, and ought to be recognized from their infancy as members of Christ's Church and brought up in its fold and under its fostering care. There is no other system of belief of widespread influence in the churches to which these principles are logically so unconformable. Professor Rishell has undertaken a most important task in pleading for them in Arminian circles. He has undertaken a task difficult to the verge of impossibility in pleading for them on Arminian principles.

Elsewhere, Warfield describes the Arminian language of "allowing the Holy Spirit to work upon the heart, say, as one employs a carpenter to do work for you" as terribly problematic (see Warfield's "Review" of L. S. Chafer's "He That Is Spiritual").  Warfield appreciates the author's candor in approaching the topic from his Arminian perspective, which, as Warfield chides, is an almost impossible task upon Arminian presuppositions, for reasons spelled out below.

The children certainly must be a source of gravest concern to a consistently Arminian reasoner. The fundamental principle of Arminianism is that salvation hangs upon a free, intelligent choice of the individual will; that salvation is, in fact, the result of the acceptance of God by man, rather than of the acceptance of man by God. The logic of this principle involves in hopeless ruin all who, by reason of tenderness of years, are incapable of making such a choice. On this teaching, all those who die in infancy should perish, while those who survive the years of immaturity might just as well be left to themselves until they arrive at the age of intelligent option.

Since Arminian theology is grounded in a supposed universal prevenient grace, Warfield points out the inconsistency in applying this notion to children not yet mature enough to respond to the gospel.  Many in our time solve this dilemma through the invention of a so-called and mythical age of accountability, in which children must be considered "innocent" before God until they reach that moment of maturity and spiritual development in which they can take advantage of this prevenient grace and then decide for themselves whether or not to "follow Jesus," and accept him as one's personaLordandSavior. 

But if children are not "innocent" because they participate in Adam's fall with its guilt and corruption, then they must be in grave peril of eternal loss until the presumed age of accountability (whatever that might be) is reached.  The Arminian problem is that saving grace is not universal, but human sinfulness and guilt are.  Here is the dilemma--if salvation depends upon an act of the human will, how can children be expected to "choose" Jesus during these "tender years?"  The only recourse is to delcare them "innocent."  But if they are not, then what? 

As he is apt to do, Warfield fleshes this out further by pressing the Arminian to be faithful to the consequences of his or her own position.

Let no one suppose that we are insinuating that our Arminian brethren live on these principles. They are far from doing this. They people heaven with infants who die in infancy; infants who are saved by the sovereign grace of God operating quite independently of co-operation on their own part. Infants dying in infancy certainly cannot "improve grace." And that is to say, those who die in infancy, if they are saved at all, must be saved on the Calvinistic principle of monergistic grace. And it is not to be believed that our Arminian brethren neglect the religious training of their children more than other Christians.

The Armianian who suffers the tragic loss of a child will do as all Christians do--trust the grace and Mercy of God (specifically, the merits of Jesus) to save their children.  While thankful for it, Warfield points out the striking inconsistency.  Rev. Rishell too senses the tension here and urges Arminian parents to devote themselves to the instruction of their children--apparently an issue in the churches with which he was affiliated.

It must be confessed, however, that Professor Rishell brings grievous charges against what, from his representations, may be a considerable party in his church. He charges that they prosecute the religious training of their children with some degree of listlessness, on wrong presuppositions, and, in wide circles, with no firmly-grounded expectation that it will bear particularly rich fruit.

Thankfully, many evangelical parents are faithful in their efforts to instruct their children in the Christian faith.  Sadly, too many Reformed Christians are not.  But Warfield's reminder of the inconsistency in the Arminian system means (as we will see) that children ought to be "counted out," until "they count themselves in."  When Arminians treat their children as church members and participants in the covenant they do not have the proper theological categories to do so.  No wonder Rev. Rishell laments the widespread neglect of the spiritual development (catechesis) of the children of believers.

End of Part One -- More to Follow


"At the Day of Jesus Christ" -- Philippians 1:1-11

The Second in a Series of Sermons on Philippians

The Apostle Paul is in prison.  He’s facing a possible death sentence.  He is writing to a church which he helped to found a decade earlier, offering them words of encouragement while also exhorting them to regard themselves as citizens of heaven.  Despite the difficulties Paul is facing while imprisoned, even the casual reader of Philippians cannot help but notice the constant refrain of joy throughout this letter–in fact, Paul uses the word for joy as a noun or a verb sixteen times in the epistles’s four chapters.  The Philippian Christians reading this letter are enduring well despite the persecution they are facing.  One of their number–a man named Epaphroditus (who perhaps a pastor or an elder)–has learned of Paul’s imprisonment, and has come with an offer of help for Paul from the Philippians, who regard Paul as their father in the faith.  This reflects their sincere desire to help the Apostle.  Paul hopes to send Timothy to Philippi to encourage them, but in the meantime he composes this short letter encouraging the members of this church to progress in joy and in the faith, and he sends it back with Epaphroditus.  Philippians is truly a wonderful letter, and I am sure our time spent studying it will be a blessing to us all.

Whenever we begin a new series on a book of the Bible, it is important to know who wrote the particular document, when it was written, and under what historical circumstances.  Such information is vital so that we understand the context in which the book was written, and so that we interpret the book correctly.  This is also a great aid in preventing the all-too common tendency among American Christians to turn every book in the Bible into “my story,” and focus on tips for Christian living or timeless truths or principles for success, rather than understand that as we go through the various books of the Bible (tied to real history), God is including us in that redemptive-history.  He is actually rewriting our own self-understanding by including us in the on-going story of how it is that God redeems sinful people–like the Philippians and like us.  For this to happen, we need to know and understand the context of these books.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians is one of the few books of the Bible virtually unchallenged by critical scholars.  It is accepted by most everyone that this letter was written by the Apostle Paul to the church in Philippi founded about AD 50.  The letter to the Philippians was composed by Paul between the mid-fifties of the first century, and perhaps as late as 60-62 AD.  The only debate among scholars is what were Paul’s exact circumstances when this letter was written.  We do know that when Paul writes this letter, he is a prisoner–he mentions this fact three times in the first chapter alone (1:7, 13, 17).  

Paul does not say where he is imprisoned, and those who argue for an earlier date for the composition of this letter contend that Paul’s imprisonment is in the city of Ephesus or even Caesarea.  But Paul’s Roman imprisonment is much more likely given his reference to the Praetorium in verse 13 of the opening chapter (the Praetorium is the “imperial guard” in Rome).  We know from the closing chapters of the Book of Acts that while appealing his arrest to Caesar (Acts 28; 16, 30-31), Paul lived in a rented house in Rome, Timothy was present with him (1:1; 2:19-23), and that a Roman soldier was assigned to guard him while Paul remained under house arrest.  A Roman imprisonment also fits with Paul’s directive in Philippians 4:22 to extend greetings from Christians in Caesar’s household to their Christian brothers and sisters in Philippi.  A date of 60-62 is most likely, about 10-12 years after Paul had first preached the gospel in Philippi and founded a church as we discussed last time when we considered Acts 16 and the gospel’s arrival on the European mainland.

To read the rest of this sermon:  Click Here


This Week at Christ Reformed Church (March 12-18)

Sunday Morning, March 18:  We will conclude our time in the Book of Micah by considering Micah's prediction of a coming Messiah who will be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:1-7:20). Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon:  We are studying the Belgic Confession (Article 5) and the authority of Scripture.  Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study (March 14 @ 7:30 p.m.):  We continue our series, "Apologetics in a Post-Christian Age."  Our lecture will focus upon the freedom of the will in relation to apologetics.

The Academy (Friday, March 16 @ 7:30 p.m.):   We continue our lecture/discussion series based upon Allen Guelzo's Teaching Company Course, The American Mind.  Our topic this week is John Dewey and his influence upon American education.

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here (Christ Reformed Church), or on Facebook (Christ Reformed on Facebook).


"Let Us Go Up to the Mountain of the LORD" -- Micah 4:1-8

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon on the Minor Prophets from the Book of Micah

Click Here


This Week's White Horse Inn

Futility of Mind and Hardness of Heart

In Ephesians 4:17, Paul says that Christians “must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” In this insightful passage, we see the connection between doctrine and life, even in the case of non-Christians. According to Paul, Gentiles pursue lives of pleasure and sensuality because they believe that life is ultimately purposeless and futile. Christians, however, are called to live in light of God’s revealed purposes in Christ, and to put off the old self with its deceitful desires

Click Here


Apologetics in a Post Christian Age (Audio) -- Theological Cateogies (Part Three)

Here's the audio from the Wednesday Night Bible Study:  The Noetic Effects of Sin

Previous lectures in this series can be found here (scroll down): Apologetics in a Post Christian Age



Mike Horton's Book "Calvin on the Christian Life" Free  Ebook

Crossway is making Mike Horton's outstanding book, Calvin on the Christian Life available as a free eBook download.  This was posted yesterday and Crossway will keep these specials up for a very limited time.

If you want it, get it quick!

Here's the link:  Calvin on the Christian Life


"From There to Philippi" -- Acts 16:1-18

The First in a Series of Sermons on Philippians

We are beginning a new series on two of Paul’s letters, Philippians and then Colossians.  Some of you may be asking, “why begin a series on Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi by starting in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Acts?”  I am doing so because the entire sixteenth chapter of the Book of Acts is devoted to the establishment of the first Christian churches on the European continent, including the founding of a church in the Roman city of Philippi, named for Phillip II, the father of Alexander the Great.  Acts 16 contains the record of Paul’s second missionary journey about 50 AD.  Since Luke (the author of Acts) give us such a detailed account of Paul’s bold preaching of the gospel which led to a church being founded in Phillipi, this passage serves as a good place to start our series, so that we know something about the church to which Paul sends his Philippian letter a dozen or so years later, in 62 AD, while the Apostle was imprisoned in Rome.
In verses 6-10 of Acts 16, Luke recounts the so-called “Macedonian call.”  Paul has a vision of a man urging him come and preach the gospel in Macedonia (a region in Greece).  In the 16th chapter of Acts we also find the account of the conversion of Lydia (vv. 11-15)–possibly the first convert to Christianity on the European mainland–followed by Paul’s encounter with a demon-possessed girl, which led to Paul’s arrest (vv. 16-24).  And then there is the wonderful account of the conversion of the Philippian jailer (vv. 25-34).  All of these events are behind the formation of a church in Philippi to which Paul writes his letter some years after first visiting the area and preaching the gospel.  So, before we take up the text of Paul’s Philippian letter next week, we will begin with a survey of Acts 16, and Luke’s account of the initial spread of the gospel into Europe.

In the 16th chapter, Luke describes events which transpired while Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke were together in the city of Philippi.  The background to Paul’s arrival in the city is the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15, when the Apostles and elders of the church gathered to settle the question of Gentile salvation.  After the council had concluded, Paul and Silas made a pastoral visit to those churches which were founded during Paul’s previous journey to Galatia (in what is now central Turkey).  These churches faced the threat of Judaizers–those who were teaching that in addition to believing that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah, one must also be circumcised, and even embrace elements of Jewish religion–keep the Jewish feasts, eat a kosher diet, etc.  Silas was one of those commissioned by the churches to take the Jerusalem Council’s decree to the newly founded churches in Galatia plagued by this false teaching (Acts 15:22).  

Prevented by the Holy Spirit from going to Asia Minor and Bythinia (Acts 16:6), Paul, Silas and two others newly added to the group, Timothy and Luke, crossed the Aegean Sea.  In response to the vision given him (the “Macedonian call”), Paul began to preach the gospel in Macedonia on the European mainland.  The reason why the Spirit prevented Paul and the others from going back to Asia Minor now becomes clear–God had other plans for Paul, namely taking the gospel to the very heart of Gentiles lands in Europe.  We read in verses 11-12.  “So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony.  We remained in this city some days.”  

Phillipi was the site of a fierce battle in 42 BC when Mark Anthony and Octavian defeated the forces of Brutus and Cassisus, Julius Caesar’s assassins.  When Octavian and Mark Anthony subsequently fought one other in 31 BC (the battle of Actium), Octavian ordered that the city become a colony for Antony’s disbanded army.  This is why Phillipi is a Roman city (non-Greek) with little if any Jewish population.  The city was located on the Via Egnatia, an important Roman road running from Italy to Asia Minor.  Phillipi was a very important place for a Christian church.  As we read in our Old Testament lesson from Isaiah 49, the messianic prophecy regarding YHWH’s servant, indwelt by the Spirit, who will be proclaimed to the nations begins to unfold in the light (truth), righteousness, and justice proclaimed to the Greeks and Romans by the Apostle Paul.

To read the rest of this sermon:  From There to Philippi


My Orange County Roots

A local newspaper recently did a story on my family ties to Knott's and Orange County--if you are interested.  That's my mom (at nineteen) behind the counter next to Walter Knott in the original Berry Market, about 1939.

Thanks Brooklynn!

Fourth-generation local has an illustrious family history at Knott’s and in Orange County

By Brooklynn Wong

Orange County has changed a lot over the last century. What was once farmland has become suburbia; what was a homogenous post-war settlement has become multiracial; and what was a local stand to sell berries to families on their way to the beach has become an amusement park visited by millions each year.

One man, who has lived in the same home, blocks away from Knott’s Berry Farm for his entire life, has had a unique vantage point to the changes.

Dr. Kim Riddlebarger is a Buena Park lifer, spent years running a business at Knott’s, and his family roots run deep, as his relatives were around in the earliest days.

Knott’s Berry Farm, at the start, was just that. A man named Walter Knott and his wife Cordelia opened a berry stand. Beginning in the 1930s, Walter and Anaheim City Parks Superintendent and horticulturist Rudolph Boysen began selling the boysenberry, a hybrid fruit Boysen had created.

To read the rest, All in the Family for Riddlebarger and Buena Park